The top 11 questions heading into MLS Week 25...
11) Is Omar Gonzalez's re-up the most important DP deal yet?
The LA Galaxy were the first team in MLS history to utilize the Designated Player Rule (to sign its namesake David Beckham, of course) and they took another landmark step this week by making their towering Texan center back the first out-and-out defender to earn a DP tag. A quite lucrative deal if early media reports are accurate, OG's move is Jurgen Klinsmann-approved, further boosting the hopes of young domestic talent seeking to advance their careers in MLS.
10) Can Sporting KC handle the Buck Shaw gauntlet?
Geographically speaking, precious few teams are as Jekyll-and-Hyde this season as the San Jose Earthquakes, who have lost only one match in their cozy home on the campus of Santa Clara University but have won just once away from it. Sporting Kansas City must cope with the Quakes' pace, physicality and doggedness when they hit the West Coast this weekend (10 pm ET Sunday, MLS LIVE/Univision Deportes).
9) Can Dennis Iapichino do some damage to his former team on Saturday?
It's not often that a conference counterpart releases a player who can instantly address one of your most pressing positional needs, yet that's exactly what happened to D.C. United this week as the former Montreal Impact left back dropped into their laps – just in time to pay a visit to his old club in United's colors on Saturday (7 pm ET, TSN/RDS).
8) Will Juan Agudelo make sure he's leaving MLS on a high note?
While Gonzalez and Clint Dempsey have decided their best career prospects lie in MLS, Agudelo is eager to try his hand overseas, as he recently signed a pre-contract agreement to join English Premier League side Stoke City in January. The New England Revolution striker has two or three months left to seal a memorable MLS legacy, and that effort could start on Saturday if he's ruled fit enough to play a role against the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
7) Can the Timbers keep FC Dallas on the skids?
Still winless since Memorial Day, slumping Dallas showed signs of life against LA last weekend but could not hang on for all three points on a wild night in Frisco, Texas. A similarly testing task awaits in Portland on Saturday as they visit a Timbers squad which is equally hungry for their first win in over a month (11 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
6) Will Colorado’s first-ever Designated Player make his debut vs. Vancouver?
It took Pepé Le Pew-esque levels of persistance for the Rapids to secure Gabriel Torres as the club's inaugural DP after the Panamanian striker's sterling Gold Cup campaign, and now he's finally eligible to make his first MLS appearance as Colorado take on the Whitecaps in an important Western Conference clash on Saturday (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Will he prove his worth from day one?
5) Are you paying attention to Camilo yet?
Don't look now, as they say, but Vancouver's explosive little Brazilian has climbed into joint possession of the league scoring lead alongside Mike Magee. Camilo might not get quite as much mainstream press attention as other attacking luminaries, but at his best he's both fun to watch and devastatingly effective for the 'Caps, who are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.
4) Just what kind of team do Chivas USA want to be?
As if the current season wasn't tough enough on their club and its fans, the Goats have recently shown a predilection for red cards and unsavory physical play, so much so that the front office made a public announcement this week promising internal discipline. Losing games is one thing, but Chivas desperately need some kind of positive identity to provide purpose and hope. Perhaps a bye weekend will give coach José Luis Real and his staff some useful time to work in this direction.
3) Can Real Salt Lake exploit LA's chief weak point?
It's odd to see the LA Galaxy, for so long a set-piece powerhouse thanks to personnel like Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Omar Gonzalez, so vulnerable on restarts in their defensive end. Last week, all three of FCD's goals came off set pieces, as have 10 of LA's 30 goals conceded on the season. RSL, a club known for some pretty well-versed restart sequences, visit StubHub Center on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
2) Can Dempsey lead the Sounders to victory in his home state?
Deuce returns to his native Texas on Saturday as Seattle drop in on BBVA Compass Stadium to battle the Houston Dynamo (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE). The US national team captain has navigated a nonstop schedule since his return from England, and now he's finally getting to focus on his football a bit – which could portend a breakout performance in front of his friends and family.
1) Will another visit from Philly provoke another crop of golazos from the Red Bulls?
Highlights: NY 2, PHI 1
The last time the Union visited Red Bull Arena, New York's Dax McCarty and Thierry Henry conjured up two of the prettiest goals you're likely to see in a season, much less one game, as RBNY beat their neighbors 2-1 on March 30. These rivals are separated by just one point in the upper reaches of the Eastern Conference standings as they renew hostilities on Saturday (8 pm ET, NBCSN).